President Obama is branding Republicans as predators endangering education and scholarship money as part of his re-election strategy to reenergize the young voters who propelled him into office in 2008.
"There are powerful voices in Washington; there are powerful lobbies and special interests in Washington," Obama told hundreds of college students at North Virginia Community College's Annandale campus on Tuesday. "And they're going to want to reduce the deficit on your backs. And if you are not heard, that's exactly what's going to happen."
Obama traveled to three college campuses in the last week to slam House Republicans' debt-reduction plans and promote his own, which would increase taxes on the wealthy, cut the defense budget and preserve Medicare and Medicaid.
"I just spent the last two years making sure that instead of giving subsidies to banks, we were giving that money directly to students in the form of more grants and better deals on their loans," Obama said. "I'm not going to undo that after all the work we've done."
The president's stump speech about winning the future and creating jobs in a new economy "is an appealing message for a lot of young people who have just recently entered the work force," says Mo Elleithee, former spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
"It's smart," he added. "When you look at the emerging crop of Republican presidential candidates, Obama is the only one that is looking to the future. The rest are looking backwards in their
Voters under the age of 30 were 18 percent of the vote in 2008, compared with 17 percent in 2004. Obama won 66 percent of those 2008 votes.
But young voter turnout dropped precipitously in the midterm elections.
"College students quickly drew back into a shell of apathy, and even became cynical" when the change promised by Obama didn't materialize overnight, says David Steinberg, a political communications professor at the University of Miami.
Obama is trying to ignite new energy among young voters by setting up an us-versus-them scenario that brands Republicans as antagonistic toward students.
But Obama faces a conundrum of his own. In 2008, his position as a relative newcomer running a historic campaign appealed to the anti-establishment, anti-Washington attitude of the young. Obama himself is now part of that establishment and he's retooling his image as the most dependable ally of students in Washington.
"How many of you can't afford to pay another $1,000 to go to school?" Obama asked students. "I know what this is like. Scholarships helped make it possible for me and for Michelle to go to college."
It certainly helps that he is so far the youngest candidate among his potential 2012 contenders.
"He's still pretty young and still pretty cool," Steinberg commented.
Obama is also reaching out to young voters using Facebook, a student-friendly platform and will hold an online town hall meeting this week from the social network's California headquarters.
"I'm going to need your help," Obama told students Tuesday. "I can't afford to have all of you as bystanders in this debate. I want everybody to be in the game."
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/ … z1K5cncUo5
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